DC Comics graphic novels
July 27, 2010 10:29 AM   Subscribe

I want to get educated on a number of DC Comics characters by reading easily available graphic novels and trade paperbacks. What should I read? (Characters and caveats inside).

I'd like to become conversant on the modern incarnations of some DC comics characters. Namely:

Green Arrow
Lex Luthor
The Joker (I've read The Killing Joke/The Dark Knight)
Batman (only the most recent, absolute best and grittiest stuff, I've read most of the classic graphic novels)

I'm more interested in stories directly concerning said characters than teams that they might be a part of. I'm looking for the best takes on the characters, with an eye towards the most recent interpretations. (I'd rather read the character's "Dark Knight" than a collections of silver age one-offs). I realize that Batman sticks out on this list, so only the newest, best stuff about him please.

I'd also be interested in suggestions for other DC Comics characters who are dark/gritty and have easily obtainable, quality stuff available.
posted by Bookhouse to Media & Arts (9 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Joker- "The Man Who Laughs"

Batman - "Arkham Asylum" "The Long Halloween", "Year One", "Dark Knight Strikes Again", current (Morisson's) "Batman and Robin", "Batman RIP". Do not read All-Star Batman and Robin. Opinions are torn about "Hush"

Lex Luthor - "Lex Luthor: Man of Steel"
posted by griphus at 10:38 AM on July 27, 2010

Best answer: Would you be willing to go into Vertigo? It's a DC imprint that pretty much centered around being dark and "adult-oriented" and had an influx of amazing stuff in the late 80s/early 90s. Off the top of my head: "Animal Man," "Doom Patrol," "Preacher," "Shade the Changing Man." And, more recently, with "Y the Last Man" and "100 Bullets."
posted by griphus at 10:41 AM on July 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: "Green Arrow: Year One" by Andy Diggle and Jock was the best goddamn Green Arrow comic I've read in years. It covers all of Ollie's origin with a modern take, and it's gorgeous.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 10:45 AM on July 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Grant Morrison's run on Batman, without a doubt, continuing through to Batman RIP, the Return of Bruce Wayne miniseries, and the currently ongoing Batman & Robin (and the just-announced Batman Inc.). You'll have to deal with some dodgy artwork in places (though there's also the occasional treat from JH Williams III or Frank Quitely), but it's some of the best work that's been done with the character in years. It does reintroduce some of the silver-age lunacy that's been missing from Batman's more self-consciously gritty appearances for a long time, but in an often disturbing way. And Morrison's run has one of the more disturbing Jokers in a long time. Also see his early graphic novel Arkham Asylum if you haven't yet; it's not his best work but it's a good read, and has some very distinctive Dave McKean art.

For Catwoman, try Ed Brubaker's stuff with Darwyn Cooke.
posted by Merzbau at 10:46 AM on July 27, 2010

The DC animated universe is a great place to start as well. Justice League spent a lot if time with the minor characters, while Batman and Superman had their own shows. (Mark Hamil will always be the Joker to me)

Avoid 'The Batman' though. It was like somebody put Batman through the same committee that gave us Poochy.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 11:08 AM on July 27, 2010

I came in to receommend Arkham Asylum also. It is messed up.

It gets right to the core of a number of classic Batman villains, as well as Batman himself.
posted by crickets at 11:55 AM on July 27, 2010

Best answer: For Catwoman, specifically try the "When in Rome" mini by Jeph Loeb. That's the beginning of her (latest) reconception, Catwoman version 3, in main continuity. If you like that, seek out the Catwoman series, which follows, particularly 1-50. If you like that, Birds of Prey is also pretty great, especially the Gail Simone run.

For Green Arrow, I think one of the best things is to go old school: Green Lantern/Green Arrow by O'Neil and Adams. Some of the best writing of the early seventies and some of the best art ever in comic book form. Farily derivative of Easy Rider, but essential to understanding the modern (post-wannabe Bruce Wayne) Green Arrow.

I'd say go for "Hush" in the Batman continuity. It's not the best book ("Killing Joke" or "Year One"), but it's pretty good.

There are no good Nightwing stories (***ROBINIST***).

Etrigan (The Demon) is a bit tougher. Kirby is the place to start, but he's not featured a lot. He gets a lot of walk on bits.

As well as the Vertigo characters listed above (Animal Man, Doom Patrol are must reads), I'd look at Deadman---Lost Souls is good.

Also, I thoink you would really like the Seven Souldiers of Victory series by Grant Morrision, his warm-up lap before Final Crisis: 1, 2, 3, 4.
posted by bonehead at 12:03 PM on July 27, 2010

Best answer: Another gloriously gritty recent Vertigo GN is Hellblazer: Pandemonium, by old-school John Constantine writer Jamie Delano and, again, Jock. It very precisely sums up all the major traits of John Constantine that Keanu Reeves didn't, and it does so in an Iraq War setting.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 2:48 PM on July 27, 2010

Etrigan (The Demon) is a bit tougher.

Yeah, indeed. I will mention though that he makes a not-insignificant appearance in Alan Moore's run on Swamp Thing, the entire run of which is typically terrific.
posted by Skot at 9:52 AM on July 28, 2010

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